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Knowledge Needs and Information Extraction: Towards an Artificial Consciousness by Nicolas Turenne

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Chapter 3

The Notion of Need

Our needs govern our consciousness by way of the mechanism of motivation. Our vital needs are a good illustration of this relation with motivation – although the primary vital need – the need to breathe – is usually felt subconsciously rather than consciously. Why? We must see individuals not only as being thinking entities, i.e. which are cognitive but also physical, but also as being mobile, unlike plants. However, respiration is a pressing need which does not support a tolerance to ubiquity as do other needs. It is a reflexive and instantaneous need – hence that unconscious feeling of a need.

3.1. Hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s theory about human motivation establishes a hierarchy of needs to describe the motivation of a student [MAS 43; MAS 87]. Tennant [TEN 97] summarizes this hierarchy as follows:

– physiological needs – e.g. hunger, thirst and need for sleep;
– survival needs – the need for a secure space and a predictable world;
– needs for love and friendship – the need for meaningful relationships with other people;
– needs for self-esteem – these involve feelings of competence, confidence, credibility and respect of others;
– need for personal accomplishment – where full expression of the student’s talents and potential can be demonstrated.

Practitioners of personal development are able to follow a social norm without being limited in their point of view and their beliefs, and can on occasion go beyond social means of behavior [TEN 97]. For some ...

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